A HEROIN dealer thought he was supplying fellow addicts who came calling at his door seeking the drug, a court heard.

But, in reality James Box sold three £10 wraps to undercover police officers posing as customers ‘Danny’ and ‘Kelly’.

The purchases were made over a three-week period in May, last year, as part of a police crackdown on low-level street dealing of heroin in Horden.

Durham Crown Court was told there was a simple procedure adopted, as one of the officers would approach the house and speak to someone outside asking to make a purchase.

That person would then go inside and Box emerged a short time later with the requisite number of wraps requested.

Following his later arrest, Box, 39, of Eleventh Street, Horden, admitted three counts of supplying the class A drug and one of being concerned in the supply.

Jane Waugh, mitigating, said: “He’s been addicted to heroin for about 15 years, although there was a six-year gap.”

But Miss Waugh said a family bereavement brought about a relapse, prior to his arrest.

“He realises he’s in custody because of his own behaviour, but he hopes it will help him get clean again.”

Miss Waugh said Box attended a substance misuse programme seeking to curb his heroin use, and, while in custody, has engaged with a team in prison on a reduced methadone programme to try to overcome his addiction.

“It’s not an environment he’s been used to in recent years as he has not served a custodial sentence since 2003, but he is at least receiving assistance and medical provision for leg ulcers, which are a legacy of his heavy heroin use.”

Jailing him for two years and eight months, Judge Christopher Prince told Box: “It’s obvious you had a system in place for people to attend that property seeking supply.

“Your stock in trade was to supply, and, not just to a circle of close friends.”